On Track On Line - Amtrak Auto Train Tips Fares and Costs
Costs and Other Things
The Auto Train is not inexpensive, although it can be cost-effective when compared with the price of flying and renting a car at your destination. Coach is a pretty good deal; a sleeping compartment, while quite comfortable, runs the price up considerably. Your fare will include a charge for your automobile, a charge for you and any other members of your party, and if you've reserved a compartment, a single charge for that.
Auto Train fares are complex (like airline fares). Visit Amtrak's website and you will be able to obtain exact fares for any Auto Train trip you are planning. To give you a rough idea of typical fares, during the winter of 2007, Amtrak was quoting a round-trip price in coach of about $750 for two adults with one child and one standard-size car. Adding a round-trip Family Bedroom raised the round-trip fare to about $1,200.
If you think you may become a regular Amtrak passenger, it's worth your while to enroll in Amtrak's Guest Rewards program, which operates similar to the airline frequent flyer programs, awarding you free trips and other incentives based on your purchases of Amtrak tickets.
The Auto Train offers a 10% discount on rail fare to members of the National Association of Railroad Passengers and to members of any American Automobile Association (AAA) auto club. Be aware that Amtrak's normal senior citizen discounts do not apply to travel on the Auto Train. Other discount fares may occasionally be available, particularly when traveling against the predominant flow of east coast traffic (for instance, traveling north in January may result in a less expensive fare). Check Amtrak's website and look under the heading "Hot Deals" for Weekly Specials to see if any discounts are available for the period when you plan to travel
Amtrak Vacations operated by a private travel agency on Amtrak's behalf, offers complete packages that include Amtrak travel, hotels, rental cars, planes, and travel insurance. You can call Amtrak Vacations at 1-800-AMTRAK2 (1-800-268-7252) or visit them at the Amtrak Vacations Web Site. Their travel planner can be ordered on line by clicking here.
Tipping is not required, but is a nice touch. At dinner leave a few dollars; at breakfast a dollar should be sufficient. Your car attendant, particularly in first class, should also receive a tip. Around $10-$20 is fine for sleeper car passengers who receive good service.
Reservations for regular coach, first class, and special fares can be made by calling Amtrak at 1-877-SKIP-I95 (special Auto Train number) or 1-800-USA-RAIL (872-7245) (general Amtrak reservations), or by talking to a travel agent who understands train travel. Ask to receive the special Auto Train brochure. For a vacation package call 1-800-268-7252.
Other Things You Should Know
Amtrak has purchased a fleet of new auto carriers for use on the Auto Train. This means that they can handle larger numbers of minivans and SUVs than in the past.
No pets are permitted on board the Auto Train, with the sole exception of service dogs that are clearly assisting a passenger with special needs. This rule is strictly enforced. Also, do not leave a pet in your car-- the auto carriers are typically frigid in the winter and steamy hot in the summer.
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